‘It took me nearly dying to realize just how much I wanted to live’: Paraplegic overcomes her freak skydiving accident

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“Four years ago I was in a horrible skydiving accident and broke my back, pelvis and shattered my teeth. I was completely paralyzed from the waist down and was told I would never walk again.

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I have been indescribably lucky and have regained the ability to walk but as you can imagine, the whole experience has taught and changed me beyond words.

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I remember as soon as it happened, my biggest fear wasn’t never walking again, it was never feeling happiness again. I was certain that there was no way someone could go through something like that and be happy. On the spot I accepted that my life would never be good, and I asked the doctors that were trying to save me, to kill me.

Instagram/em_carey
Instagram/em_carey

But I persevered through my progress – first learning how to use a wheelchair, then learning how to stand up off the floor, then walking with a frame, to crutches, then only one crutch, and finally walking with no help at all.

Instagram/em_carey
Instagram/em_carey
Instagram/em_carey

I have tried to improve my fitness and get outside and embrace my legs as much as I can.

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After all this time, I can honestly now say that my life is better for it. My entire outlook and perception has changed, and I can now see every single day as the gift that it always has been. The reason I share my story is because I have learned so much from my near-death experience and I would love for everyone to be able to learn these things as well, without having to go through the trauma. I hate that it took me nearly dying, to realize just how much I wanted to live. I don’t want other people to have to have the same big wake-up call that I did.

Instagram/em_carey

The transformation and journey from the girl who was lying on the ground wanting to die, to the happy and bubbly person I am today, is what I am most proud of. When I share my story, I very rarely talk about the path to walking because in all honestly, a lot of that was out of my control. But the one thing I did have control over was how I chose to deal with it. Before my accident there was absolutely no way that I ever would have thought I was capable of going through something like this, but that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned along the way… you never know how strong you are, until you have no choice but to be strong.

Instagram/em_carey

I am extremely passionate about spreading awareness of spinal cord injuries. Although I am one of the lucky few who is back on my feet, I still suffer with all the other aspects of a spinal cord injury, which unfortunately not many people know much about (no sensation in my legs, no bladder or bowel function, etc.) and I do my best to educate and inform everyone I can about the things we all deal with on a daily basis. I aim to remove the stigma and embarrassment associated with this injury and enable people to talk openly about their struggles, so they don’t have to feel so alone.

Instagram/em_carey

I also aim to help people see their bodies as the miracle machine that they are; to help people think, ‘I love my legs because they enable me to walk,’ rather than, ‘I hate my legs because they are ugly.’ I have been using my Instagram to spread my message and have had such an incredible response from more people than I ever could have imagined who have thanked me for what I do.

Instagram/em_carey

The skydive was a total freak accident but I’m not against skydiving at all. I have always thought that I would like to do it again one day, to create a positive memory in my mind and close the chapter. It took me a long time to be able to say this, but I wouldn’t change the past, even if I could. Yes, I have lost a lot, but the things I have gained are far more important to ever want to take back what happened.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Emma Carey of Australia. She chronicles her rehabilitation journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your story here.

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